Live stream online shopping is a tried and tested concept in China, where social network titans like Douyin (China’s version of TikTok) are reinventing themselves as home shopping channels. Influencers and brands stream live content where the audience can instantly buy things that they are seeing on the app. Currently, Alibaba’s Taobao Live is dominating 80% of the market, but other businesses and platforms across Asia are picking up on it (WARC,2020). Even TikTok in the U.S has started experimenting with this feature through a partnership with Walmart.
So What Exactly Is Live E-Commerce?
Live E-Commerce is the selling of goods online through platforms like Shopee and Lazada, where they have integrated features that allow viewers to see influencers and key opinion leaders in real-time promote products and services. On Shopee alone, a Singaporean online shopping platform streams 17,000 pieces of live content every day. This results in 14 million daily views, and over 700,000 hours watched by interested consumers each day. It’s basically window shopping at scale!
The Live Stream Boom During Lockdown
Live streams were a big phenomenon in Asia prior to Covid-19, but the numbers don’t lie when looking at the past year’s success in this space. According to Shopee, the company saw a 99% growth in 2020 globally, whilst Twitch saw 1.65 billion hours of content watched after only 2 months of lockdown! Streaming services certainly benefited the most during the pandemic, but it appears this won’t change even after lockdown ends, as most apps and brands are now looking into turning Live E-Commerce into a common shopping experience for their users.
How Can Brands Use Live Formats To Attract A New Market?
Live E-Commerce streams can appear on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitch, allowing users and brands to communicate with followers and consumers in the moment. These social platforms have seen the value of live content and are building out new features for it. We’ve seen this with TikTok in the U.S and now Facebook has partnered with retailers such as Clinique and Sephora, as part of the platform’s ‘Live Shopping Fridays’ segment. It won’t be long before all social media platforms will be including this in their services.
Influencers have contributed massively to this online marketing shift, as brands have been using influencers to host these live shopping streams. What successful Asian brands have been doing is putting together scripts for influencers, to champion the product in a number of ways; reviews, promotional offers, and live testing. If the audience likes it, they can buy it instantly. The integral part of this interaction between influencer and consumer is the opportunity for consumers to ask questions, and for influencers to give feedback about the product. This essentially turns a month-long full-funnel campaign of awareness, consideration and conversion into a live 30-minute conversation with an influencer.
Normal E-Commerce hosts are even being turned into overnight influencers, as platforms have included mechanics to let audiences show their love, not just for the products, but for the hosts too through likes and coins. Lazada (a Singaporean multinational E-Commerce platform) even held an online talent competition to search for new hosts for their streams, due to the increase in their partner brands requiring engaging talents to conduct these streams.
As this space is booming, many brands are investing in social live streams to stay at the forefront of their market. These streams are turning into mini variety shows, aiming to not only engage but to keep their products at the front of consumer’s minds. So it’s not just influencers in a room holding products, but cooking shows, concerts and workout classes.
Brands in Southeast Asia are seeing a conversion rate of 10-20% from high-quality streams (Shopee, 2020). This may have a direct correlation to Southeast Asia being THE leader in E-Commerce, with Indonesia and Thailand being the highest in growth over the past few years of online sales (Eastspring Investments, 2020).
The Move To Digital Events
From The Goat Agency’s strong relationship with clients across Asia, we are certainly seeing brands and platforms need to stay ahead in the Live E-commerce space. Clients want to be at the forefront of digital trends, meaning a high demand in exploring live-streaming formats through influencer and key opinion leader partnerships.
Clients such as Olay have already conducted numerous product launches via live streams on social media – replacing many physical events.
Goat ran a launch campaign for Olay Retinol during lockdown where influencers and KOLs live-streamed product reveals on their personal channels, where they were joined by a P&G scientist to answer questions about the product, whilst engaging the audience. The live content was gamified through trivia and other activities to let the audience win products whilst also educating them about its benefits.
As this was hosted on the Influencer’s Instagram page, we were unable to have direct click-throughs to the website, so the link to shop was placed in the comments and host’s bio. We saw a huge amount of positive sentiment, uplift in purchases and general brand awareness of the new collection. Following such great results, Olay has continued efforts to incorporate live streams into its product launches.
Don’t rest on your laurels…
The rise of live streams is dominated by Gen Z and Millennial consumers – the digital natives. However, over the past year, there has been a movement of 40+-year-olds watching and purchasing online, as they have had to adapt due to lockdown. It is no longer enough to rely on traditional marketing practices, as consumers are looking for more interactive touchpoints to be educated and entertained. Live streams have proved to be a successful format in China and Southeast Asia in doing just that. It won’t stop here, we’re already seeing the popularity of influencer hosted Live E-Commerce content in the Western market. Brands looking to invest in innovative digital marketing strategies should look at the success of Live E-Commerce Shopping!